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Become A Food Pantry Volunteer Today. Change Lives Tomorrow.

Join us in ending hunger and food insecurity.

Make An Impact In Your Community

Support our neighbors in Chicago and Cook County.

The hunger crisis can’t be defeated alone. With your help, we can provide the nourishment our neighbors need to improve their quality of life. Bring a family member, a group of friends or coworkers, or come alone and support your community by becoming a volunteer.

Volunteer Programs To Get Involved In

We provide our volunteers with a variety of opportunities to get involved and end food insecurity.

View our calendar for more opportunities

Volunteer with box

Repack bulk products into family-sized portions, sort and categorize donated food items, glean fresh produce items and bread.

Truck

Support local health centers with client intake, restocking produce and more.

Driver

Deliver fresh produce to our network of pantry and program partners.

Kids

Get the family involved and participate in repack sessions designed for families or groups with children ages 5-11.

Event calendar

Participate in events that include food rescue at industry trade shows, seasonal corn and squash harvests and holiday food drive collections.

Sherrie Dentley
Sherrie Dentley
Volunteer

“It’s just a very warm feeling you get knowing you’re helping someone.”

“Everyone has their own struggles and challenges, but I don’t want to be so insular and narrow that I can only see what I need to do. There’s things outside myself that need to be done.”

Read Sherrie’s story

Sherrie Dentley
Volunteer

Corporate Volunteer Opportunities In Support Of Local Food Pantries

Bring your organization together to make a difference in the world. Our corporate volunteer opportunities are designed for groups of up to 29 to:

  • Repackage fresh produce and bulk food for distribution
  • Sort and label products
  • Assemble boxes of assorted food

Contact us if you are interested in hosting a group of 30 or more.

View Our Volunteer Calendar

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volunteer-kids-900x900-2

Youth Volunteer Opportunities In Support Of Local Food Pantries

You’re never too young to become an advocate for change. Children 5-11 are welcome to become a volunteer and support our neighbors in Chicago and Cook County.

For Children Ages 5-11

Our Kids Day is hosted on one Saturday monthly for families and groups with little ones who want to get involved.

For Children 11 and Older

Volunteers over the age of 11 including youth groups can join our repack sessions at our warehouse and assist at FRESH Truck distributions in the community. We ask for one adult chaperone for every 10 youth.

SIGN UP FOR KID-FRIENDLY OPPORTUNITIES

Covid 19 Precautions

For The Safety Of Staff, Volunteers and Neighbors We Serve

In order to preserve the health of everyone involved, we require all food pantry volunteers, contractors and employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. If you or a member of your household have any of the following symptoms, please stay at home:

Cough
Cough
Cough
Fever
Fever
Fever
Muscle pain
Muscle pain
Muscle Pain
Congestion
Congestion
Congestion or Runny Nose
Chills
Chills
Chills
Difficulty Breathing
Difficulty Breathing
Difficulty Breathing
Headache
Headache
Headache
Diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea
Nausea
Nausea
Nausea or Vomiting
Sore throat
Sore throat
Sore Throat
Loss of smell
Loss of smell
Loss of Taste or Smell

FAQs

What is a Repack and Other FAQs

Can’t find an answer to your question? We’re here to help.

Reach out to us

In our repack sessions, we focus on putting large quantities of bulk food into packages that individuals and families can use. Projects include repacking bulk products such as pasta or rice to individual/family portions, assembling boxes with assorted food, checking expiration dates, labeling products and gleaning produce.

All volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19. Volunteers will be asked for verbal confirmation of vaccination status. We are still requiring volunteers to practice social distancing when volunteering. Masks are optional.

Simple answer, no. However, you will need to log-in using the e-mail address that we have on file. You will be asked to create a new password and complete your profile with any missing information. We ask that you do this before joining us on any shift past June 4, 2022.

  • If you have joined us for one or more shifts since January 2019, your volunteer history will be transferred into our new system. Please be patient as some of the data might take a little longer to appear but will be available for you to view. Feel free to contact us if you are missing data.
  • If you haven’t joined us before but have made a log-in on our former system, you will be asked to create a new account using your e-mail address.

We recommend if you are coming with family, friends or a social group (29 people or less) that you sign up as a Team. Teams are best when you know the names and e-mail addresses of all individuals attending in your team. We recommend the Team option if you plan on returning with the same team in the future.

For all other groups (29 people or less), we recommend that you register your group and add “guests”. This option allows you to register multiple people at one time and then share link with your guests for that person to complete their profile and registration.

  • The “add guest” option is helpful if you are reserving space for your group but might not know all members attending.

If you’d like to inquire about bringing a group of 30 or more, please contact us.

Opportunities are available Tuesday through Saturday. Morning and afternoon sessions are held throughout the week. Availability varies based on the number of people in your group. Be sure to book ahead to get a spot for your group. Please refer to our volunteer calendar to check for available dates. All available sessions will be posted up to two months in advance.

Youth volunteers between the ages of 11-15 are welcome to volunteer at the Food Depository during regular sessions. For every nine youth in attendance, one adult (over the age of 18) must accompany them. Volunteers over the age of 16 can volunteer independently.

Each month, we host a Kids Day Repack. During school breaks, we also host Family Day Repacks. These Kids Day and Family Day Repacks are our Repack sessions designed for kids ages 5 to 10. We require a 1:2 adult to child ratio. Please refer to our volunteer calendar for dates and availability.

All FRESH Truck volunteers must be ages eleven and older. Any volunteers between the ages of 11-15 must have an adult volunteer with them.

All volunteer drivers and driver helpers must be at least 21 years old.

Our special events accommodate a range of different age groups, depending on the event. For Food Shows, volunteers must be at least 18 years old. At the Corn/Squash Harvest, volunteers must be at least 8 years old and be accompanied by an adult.

We can accommodate different group sizes based on the day and volunteer opportunity.

  • Repack sessions: Individuals and groups of up to 29 people
  • FRESH Truck distributions: Individuals and groups of 2-3 people.

If you’d like to inquire about bringing a group of 30 or more, please send us a message.

Volunteers must wear:

  • Pants that cover your ankles (no shorts)
  • Shirts that cover your shoulders (no tank tops)
  • Enclosed shoes (no sandals/clogs)

You will not be permitted to work in the warehouse if you are wearing sandals or shorts/short skirt. Depending on the project you are assigned to, you may be asked to remove jewelry (including piercings, but rings are acceptable).

All volunteers must register in advance for a session. We are unable to accommodate walk-in volunteers.

Our sessions often fill up quickly, so we recommend that you schedule your sessions as early as possible. Our online calendar updates in real time when volunteers register. If a session is full, check back periodically to see if spots have opened up.

The Repack schedule is available on our online calendar two months in advance. Our Kids Day registration and FRESH Truck registration is available on the first business day of the month prior to the event date.

Individuals and group leaders register directly through our calendar for volunteer sessions. If you are volunteering with a group, please check with your group leader for the registration link for your group.

We ask that each volunteer who is able bring at least one shelf-stable food item to donate. Our most needed items include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Canned or dried beans
  • Canned soup, chili or stew
  • Canned fruits or vegetables
  • Canned fish

Download our most needed items list here.

No firearms or weapons are permitted on the Food Depository property.

A limited number of lockers are available for small bags, but larger items are not encouraged.

Repack volunteers will receive a brief orientation with information about the Food Depository, the work we do and descriptions of the session’s projects at the start of the session. FRESH Truck volunteers will receive an overview of the role of the FRESH Truck and the volunteer jobs immediately before the distribution.

Trainings for our special events typically take place at the start of the event. Please plan on arriving and checking in at least 15 minutes prior to the start time so orientation can begin punctually.

All volunteer drivers will need to attend a training prior to volunteering. Optional Hunger Walk trainings take place prior to the Hunger Walk. The trainings are located at 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place, Chicago, IL 60632.

Repack volunteers are not required to do heavy lifting, but should be prepared to stand for up to two and a half hours at a time with some light lifting and bending, depending on the project. A limited number of seated positions are also available.

Some volunteer positions, including produce delivery and loading vehicles, do require heavy lifting.

Our volunteers work mostly with produce and bulk dry good such as beans and pasta. However, volunteers occasionally work with allergens like wheat and nuts. If you have an allergy, please let our staff know and they will work to minimize exposure to allergens.

The Food Depository is closed on Sunday. Please contact a partner food pantry in your area for possible Sunday opportunities.

Visit our contact page for driving and public transportation directions.

For Repack Sessions on weekdays, free street parking is available on Karlov Ave., Ann Lurie Place (42nd Place) and 40th Street.

The Food Depository’s parking lot is available for Saturday volunteer sessions.

For FRESH Truck distributions and special events, please refer to the reminder email sent 1-2 days prior to the event for parking information.

Anyone volunteering to fulfill court-ordered community service must be approved by our Volunteer Engagement team prior to scheduling. Please fill out an application online. You will see the court ordered application listed as an opportunity on our volunteer calendar. Once you have answered all questions and complete “sign-up”, your application has been submitted. You will be notified in two to four business days of your approval status. If your application is approved, you will be free to schedule your service. Please do not schedule any service until you have been contacted.

Ways to Help

More Ways To Get Involved

Help comes in many forms. Choose the way best-suited to you — everything helps.

Donate

Donate and make a critical impact in the work we do through a one-time gift, monthly donation, tribute gift, stock gift or more.

Advocate

Lift your voice to support our advocacy efforts that address the root causes of hunger.

Virtual food drive

Start a fundraiser with friends, family or coworkers and make an immediate difference in our community.

Light bulb

Discover more about food insecurity and its impact on our community through research on hunger-related issues.

Attend an event, buy Food Depository merch or learn how to support us when you shop and dine.

Potatoes

It Takes A Community

With your help we can end hunger and improve the lives of our neighbors in need.